Top 10 Sales Recruiting Lessons to Hire Great Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 @ 08:07 AM

sales candidatesOne of the first emails I came across this morning was a LinkedIn update telling me that 16% of my network had started new jobs.  16%.  That's one of every 6.25 people I am connected to.

That brings us to this question.  Who's in a LinkedIn network?

I'm very selective about who I connect to on LinkedIn.  Some would suggest that you should connect with as many people as possible.  I'm of the belief that you should connect with people who you know and who know you.  I believe that you should also connect with those who fit the profile of your customers and/or clients as well as the people who can connect you with them.  

I receive twenty requests to join someone else's network for every one I send out, and I don't accept invitations from people I don't know unless they are connected to my target audience. I admit it, I'm a LinkedIn snob.

So with all that said, 16% of my small network, with fewer than 1,000 connections, still means that after we account for those people who I know, but aren't in my target demographic, more than 125 CEO's, Presidents, HR Directors, Sales Directors and Salespeople took new jobs.  2 of them left my company, a bunch of them left clients, and another bunch took jobs with clients.

This is actually very consistent with what we see and what our clients see when recruiting for positions.  There are plenty of senior sales candidates out and about, getting fed up, discouraged, mistreated, and terminated.  At the same time, very few of them have the competencies required to be effective in sales management and sales leadership roles.  You must be extremely selective and that's where it helps to have an awesome Sales Management or Sales Leadership Candidate Assessment like Objective Management Group (OMG) offers.  It is of enormous help in filtering the good-looking candidates from the strong, competent candidates.

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When it comes to sales candidates, there is a certifiable shortage.  Sure, if you post an ad, you'll get resumes, but most of the available (I can't call it talent) candidates are of poor quality.  

 

We have several tricks that we use to find and attract top talent (I share an awful lot in my blog posts, but we get paid for our best stuff), but the real lessons are these 10:

  1. You must be patient.  Wait for the right one and don't compromise.
  2. Don't hire because of a resume or references.  The success may not be transferrable.
  3. Don't disqualify because of a resume.  It may not be their fault.
  4. Don't disqualify because of a failure.  It could have been cultural or industry-specific.
  5. Track record is good, but not a guarantee of future performance.
  6. It comes down to Motivation, Competencies, Capabilities, Sales DNA and Fit and those must be measured, not claimed or guessed at.
  7. Everything you think you know about recruiting salespeople is probably only half right.
  8. If you don't use an accurate, predictive, sales-specific Candidate Assessment, you'll have better luck spinning the wheel.
  9. Most recruiters are no better at spotting and/or recommending good sales candidates than you.
  10. A good, new salesperson, without formal, structured on-boarding, direction, accountability and coaching, is just as likely to fail as a lousy salesperson.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, Sales Candidate, sales test, personality test

Finding the Right Sales and Sales Management Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 22, 2014 @ 12:05 PM

selectionI read this terrific post from our friends at New-Hire.com about the best sources for candidates in general.  It certainly applies to sales candidates as well.  Not only are the best sources a moving target, but the candidates themselves can be looked at the same way.

Five years ago, we may have started with Monster.com, two years ago, CareerBuilder.com and today, we may start with Indeed.com.  That represents two major sourcing shifts in just 5 years.  In the same period of time, there have been major shifts in the quality of sales candidates, in the roles those candidates will fill, and the capabilities we need those salespeople to possess.

For example, just 7 years ago, a company may have needed salespeople who could hunt and/or close.  While that still could be true today, it's also possible that inside sales might replace the need for hunting, and a good consultative seller could add enough value to the prospect, his/her business, and the buying process so that great closing skills aren't required.  The competencies of an inside salesperson, hunter, closer, consultative seller and even account manager are vastly different, so it is imperative that we not only define those competencies, but use tools to measure them.  Assessments are the logical choice, but it should be more and more obvious that a personality assessment can't possibly measure the different sales capabilities that would cause one to be effective in one of these roles and ineffective in another.  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures sales-specific capabilities, has configurations for all of the various sales roles, and further customizes those configurations for the specific business, market, competition and decision maker to be called or visited.  Its recommendations are extremely accurate and today it even identifies the intangibles that could cause an otherwise mediocre salesperson to succeed.  

If you would like to learn more about how OMG's sales candidate assessments can help you select the right salespeople, I am leading a complimentary webinar on the magic of the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment.

June 5
11:00 AM Eastern
Register here

Seven years ago, a company may have wanted sales managers who were task masters, holding salespeople accountable to top of the funnel metrics.  While that could still be true today, a company should be looking for a sales manager who is an extremely effective sales coach, who spends 50% of the available time coaching and developing salespeople.

As sources shift, requirements change, and the capabilities of the available candidates become less than what we require, it's more important to develop a sound sales recruiting process that is repeatable, transferrable and delivers consistent results.  In this case, results must equate to successful salespeople and sales managers who achieve and even overachieve.  

This level of consistency and success requires a change in beliefs, a desire to change the status quo, an exasperation with previous attempts and results, and embracing new ways to improve results.  Unfortunately, there are still many executives who have unrealistic expectations about their ability to recruit and select, and that if they do what they have done before, the result will change for the better.

It's not that difficult to get sales selection right, but it does require discipline, patience, process, tools and tremendous sales interviewing skills.

Let us know when you're ready to take that plunge.

Image Copyright: harishmarnad / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, sales candidates, sales test

Sales Blogging - Do As I Say, Not as I Do

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 01, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

hipocriteIt's a big problem with many of the sales blogs you read.  One-person sales consulting firms, self-appointed experts, telling, but not doing, what they say.

If you were to read through each of the 1,150 articles I have posted on this blog since 2006, and organize, sort, create a flow and edit it all into a Sales Management Bible, we would have one enormous how-to guide.  Although that was the original plan in 2006, it is no longer on my radar.  I have introduced, questioned, preached, urged, and forced a lot of issues, but I always check myself to make sure that my words do not fall into the "do as I say, but not as I do" trap of many consultants.

Keeping that in mind, Objective Management Group (OMG) held its quarterly Rockefeller Habits meeting this week.  We go to market through a global network of certified partners - our channel - and we spent considerable meeting time talking about them.  As we always do, we further refined our criteria for what constitutes a good partner, redefined our cut-offs and set the wheels in motion to say our goodbyes to those who don't make the cut.  OMG is not a company that has tolerance for non-performers.

We also spent some time identifying where our best Partners come from and I was surprised to learn that most of them had been reading this blog and either decided to add our suite of world-class Sales Force Evaluation and Candidate Assessment tools to their offerings, or start their own sales consulting businesses.  

If that describes you, please send me an email!

The rest of you should be doing the following at least on an annual basis:

  • Evaluate your sales force.
  • Identify the differences between top and bottom performers - request a sample Sales Force Evaluation.
  • Replace bottom performers who can't be coached up.
  • Commit to hiring people who are better than your current top performers - request a sales candidate assessment sample too.  Register for this free June 5, 2014,  11 AM ET, webinar on the Magic of OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.
  • Constantly refine your onboarding process, expectations and execution.
  • Improve your sales coaching capabilities.
  • Get tougher about accountability.
  • Develop and refine strategies and tactics for improved effectiveness.
  • Train, coach, train and coach some more.

It's not very difficult to upgrade the quality of your sales force or channel.  But many find it difficult to start - to take action - to take the steps listed above that properly position them to upgrade the sales force or channel.  That's because most people find it difficult to have the tough conversations, deliver the tough messages and put the tougher policies in place.  Accountability.  Execution.  Not what most people are best at.  But it's never too late to start...

But before you can start, you need information - you need answers - you need to evaluate your sales force so that you know where your sales force could be more effective, how much more effective they could be, and what must change.  It means knowing whether you truly have the right people in the right roles, whether they are going about things in the right way, and whether the right things are in place to support a high-performing sales force.

Evaluate and thrive!

Image credit: photoman / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, evaluate the sales force, sales assessments, sales test, objective management group

The Biggest Mistake Executives Make about their Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 18, 2014 @ 15:03 PM

Blood Test or Sales Force EvaluationYesterday, I had my annual physical and my doctor ordered the usual array of blood tests.  It didn't matter that I felt terrific.  It didn't matter that he observed my blood pressure, throat, eyes and ears to be perfect.  It didn't change his mind when he listened to my heart and lungs.  And he was still ordering those tests after he felt for things and didn't find anything.  The tests he can do in his office - basically the eye test - are observations.  How I report to be feeling is my version of the eye test - it's based on my own observations.  And the reason for the blood and urine tests is that we don't know what we don't know.  

Clearly, if you or I don't feel well and that feeling persists for a long enough period of time, we would seek out a doctor.  There would be symptoms.  The doctor's job would be to learn enough, from observations and tests, to identify the cause and make a diagnosis, recommend a treatment and provide a prognosis.

That is pretty much what we do at Objective Management Group (OMG).  In some cases, CEO's, Presidents, HR Directors and Sales VP's seek us out, complain about their symptoms (observations and eye test), we ask some questions and then conduct our sales force evaluation.  They know things aren't right, but they don't know why.  Our job would be to learn enough from the observations, tests and analyses, to identify the causes (diagnosis), recommend a plan of action (treatment), and provide a projected return (prognosis).

In some cases, an executive does not seek us out.  They may have stumbled upon us through what they found on the internet.  They may have read one of my thousands of articles or watched me on a video.  They may have been looking for something else and OMG came up in the search results.  They may have been introduced by a friend or colleague.  Regardless of how they found us, this plays more like the annual physical where they believe that their sales force is fine.  They are happy to talk with an expert, but don't have any symptoms that they can identify or report.  Sales are fine.  

And that, right there, is the single biggest mistake that companies make every single day.  They use revenue as the metric to determine whether their sales force is healthy. 

Sales are fine.  Compared with what?  Sales that aren't fine?  Others in the industry?  Other industries?  What they expected sales to be?  What they needed sales to be?  Their nut?  What sales could have been?  What was forecast?

Sales is always relative to an expectation and is never an accurate barometer of sales effectiveness.  One large sale or account can mask missed metrics, poor conversions, elongated sales cycles and lousy win rates.  Two large sales or accounts can mask a weak pipeline and an entire sales force of underachievers.  Renewals and residuals can similarly skew the numbers in such a way that executives have no idea how ineffective and inefficient their salespeople really are.  And today, with most companies generating inbound leads at a record clip, salespeople don't even have enough time to follow up on all of them.  That too masks the numbers because they certainly have a lot of activity taking place, don't they?

When sales are fine, there is no better time, because there is no pressure or urgency, to evaluate the sales force because it is at that very time that executives don't know what they don't know.

Use our complimentary Sales Force Grader.  Learn more about a sales force evaluation.  Read about a Sales Force Evaluation Case Study.

Image credit: alexraths / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, evaluate the sales force, sales assessments, sales test, objective management group

Validation of the Validation of the Sales Assessment

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Oct 04, 2013 @ 06:10 AM

validatedSome companies need to validate our validation.  Objective Management Group (OMG) uses Predictive Validity - the most time-consuming and expensive form of validation.  Unlike simpler methods of validation, Predictive Validity requires that we prove a connection to on-the-job performance.  The challenge is that our predictive validity is so good, some people just don't believe it and they want to revalidate it themselves.

One of the companies that insisted on validating our validation is moving forward with a license to hire 200 salespeople using our Sales Candidate Assessment.  I'll share the results of their own validation:

They conducted a 7-day pilot in April of 2012 and hired 23 salespeople.  

Our assessment recommended 13 of them, and did not recommend 10.  They reported that 9 of the 10 hired (who were not recommended) failed, and that 12 of the 13 (who were recommended) succeeded.  How do those numbers compare to our historical statistics?  

Historically, 75% of the candidates we don't recommend, who somehow get hired anyway, fail inside of 6 months.  In this pilot, 90% of the candidates that were not recommended failed.

Historically, 92% of the candidates we do recommend, who eventually get hired, succeed.  In this pilot, their success rate was also 92%.

Does it always work out like this?  Of course not.  Some companies just don't have the right sales management, sales process and systems in place so even the best candidates can fail or leave.  On the other hand, some companies, who have been using our processes, systems and tools for a while, consistently exceed these results.

The most common scenario where companies wish to do their own validation is when they are located overseas.  Despite the fact that our expansion overseas began more than a decade ago, some companies located outside of the US don't believe that a US-based tool will work in their country.  They have cultural differences to be sure, but those are more about relationships and the proper times and appropriate ways for people to interact in business settings.  Selling and what it takes for salespeople to succeed doesn't actually vary from culture to culture.  

Some countries lack selling sophistication - they're way behind - and are still selling very transactionally.  But if the company is ready to change, and their markets are ready for them to change, then they must be able to select salespeople who can make those changes as well.

Validation is an interesting process and if you look into it, you'll find that none of the personality or behavioral styles assessments use predictive validity because there simply isn't a correlation between their findings and on-the-job performance.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales evaluation, sales profile, Validation, sales test, objective management group

Do You Need to Save All of those Sales Assessments and Evaluations?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 @ 16:08 PM

The best reason to save all of those sales candidate assessments which you ran last year can be answered with a few letters: EEOC.  That's right.  It's especially true if you don't follow the sales hiring process to a "T", or worse, if you don't always follow the recommendations on the assessment.  Let's say that you loved one candidate so much that you hired him despite the recommendation not to do so.  Let's also supposed that he was white and under 40.  Let's also suppose that there was another guy, very strong, recommended on the assessment, but you didn't hire him.  What if he went to an employment attorney and claimed that you discriminated.  You know you didn't, but he wants to use it against you.  Turns out that he was a protected minority.  In case you aren't up to date on this subject, a protected minority is anyone who is not white, is 40 or older, and is not male.  In other words, most candidates are protected minorities!

You would have to prove that all candidates were assessed, not just some, so you'll need all of your results as proof.  You would also have to prove that you used the assessments consistently.  Of course, in this case, you didn't!  If you don't hire a recommended female, that's fine.  Unless, of course, you hire the 34 year-old white male who was not recommended, prompting the female to sue.  You would be pretty deep into the brown stuff at that point.

Here's a reason to keep the evaluations you did on your existing sales force in each salesperson's employment file.  Suppose you terminate a salesperson for non-performance and he claims that the firing was unlawful.  Let's say that they charged that you required them to take a sales evaluation.  While there is nothing wrong with having employees evaluated, unless you can prove that you evaluated everyone, the former employee could claim that he was singled out.

High-quality, role-specific, accurate evaluations are terrific.  But if you don't use them in way that is consistent with how they were designed to be used, you could run into trouble.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales management, eeoc, sales selection, sales test, objective management group

Is the "Lack of Commitment to Sales Success" Finding Predictive?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 06, 2013 @ 23:05 PM

over and outSo you have your sales force evaluated and in addition to learning why you are getting the results you are getting, and what you can do to significantly improve those results, you are suprised by some of the individual findings on some of your salespeople.  One of the findings that generates the most push-back is Lack of Commitment to sales success.

We could hear any of the following comments as push-back to this finding:

  • our best salesperson,
  • nobody tries harder,
  • works longer hours than anyone,
  • been here for years,
  • landed our biggest customer,
  • an up-and-comer and/or
  • we really like her.
The list could go on and on, but none of the rebuttals actually addresses commitment - one's willingness to do whatever it takes (ethically of course) to achieve sales success.  For the record, I believe that this particular finding is 100% accurate.
One such example of this occurred last fall, when after a sales force evaluation, one rep's results showed that she lacked commitment.  Their sales manager spoke with her and was cautious, but optimistic that she was committed.  A month or so later, he spoke with her a second time, pointed out a few concerns of his, and after listening to her responses, came away from the meeting feeling more optimistic, but still cautious.  
Today the sales manager - a terrific guy and very effective sales manager - sent me a note saying that this rep is getting married and leaving the company - and sales - to spend more time working in her church ministry.
Sometimes, it takes several months to see what we only can measure, but it always shows up sooner or later.
That's the danger in moving forward with salespeople who lack commitment.  The proof might not be as dramatic as in the example above, but there will always be proof, like:
  • lack of improvement from training,
  • lack of improvement from coaching,
  • inability to change their thinking,
  • inability to change their behaviors,
  • inability to embrace a new sales process,
  • inability to embrace a new sales methodology,
  • inability to embrace a company's new policies,
  • inability to become engaged in a company's new culture and/or
  • many more.
It's one thing to learn that one of your existing salespeople is not committed to their own sales success.  It's another to learn that a sales candidate lacks commitment.  Why would anyone fight that finding?  You're not invested in that candidate and there are other qualified candidates out there; so why would any manager insist on hiring someone with a lack of commitment to sales success?  
The simple answer is that employers fall in love - not in a romantic way as much as a hopeful way - with the wrong candidates all the time.  Sometimes they fall in love because of their:
  • personality,
  • energy,
  • experience,
  • expertise,
  • sense of humor,
  • book of business,
  • previous employers and/or
  • good looks.
Whatever the reason, if they lack Commitment to sales success, they should not, under any circumstances, consider that candidate for a sales position at their company.  Unless of course you like wasting time and starting over.
This is Dave saying over and out.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales candidates, sales assessments, sales test, personality test, objective management group

Inc Magazine Misses on the 13 Traits of an Outstanding Salesperson

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 @ 10:03 AM

inclogoI just read the 13 Traits of An Outstanding Salesperson, an article that appeared on Inc.com.

As usual, I had several thoughts about this so, in no particular order...

  • Note that it isn't "The" 13 traits; it's simply 13 traits, implying that there are others;
  • It's also not "The Top 13" traits;
  • These are not in any way, shape or form, expert opinions;
  • Charisma?  Really?  If the salesperson will be presenting to audiences, sure it would be a nice plus for them to be charismatic but if you read the actual explanation,  the contributor is simply talking about someone who is likable.  Likable is good, but hear this:  All of the mediocre and horrible salespeople - almost the entire 74% - are likable!
  • Laziness?  Seriously?  A great example of how an executive confuses a behavior with a result.  Great salespeople aren't lazy, they simply know which opportunities to pursue and don't waste their valuable time chasing low percentage, low profit opportunities!
  • Hunter's Mentality?  That's the correct phrase but if you read the contributor's explanation, he got the mentality part wrong.  He's more focused on whether the salesperson is excited enough about a huge opportunity to pursue it.  A true sales Hunter's mentality is to actually find as many sweet spot opportunities as possible and not waste time pursuing those with low odds of closing.
  • Intelligent Fighter?  This contributor mixes motivation with what he calls politely persistent, or assertiveness.  Motivation and assertiveness are not the same things.  There are plenty of highly motivated salespeople that are not nearly assertive enough, and plenty of assertive salespeople who are not very motivated.
  • The Trifecta?  This contributor says it's a combination of Drive, Personality and Intelligence but he describes someone who has the ability to get in front of a buyer and close the deal.  Not so again.  The real requirements for that are Strong Commitment, No Need for Approval, Rejection Proof, and Supportive Beliefs around Prospecting!
  • Existing Relationships and Product Knowledge?  All that will accomplish is assure that there are plenty of prospects who value a good presentation and product knowledge.  We don't need more friends and presenters, we need hunters, consultative salespeople, and closers!
  • People Skills?  This contributor is really describing someone with great listening skills - that's the ticket.
I think Inc. published these because they were the most interesting of all the submissions.  However, because Inc. is a respected business publication, readers are likely to take this crap to heart and actually go out and look for salespeople who exhibit these traits.  Most of these young business people either don't know what they don't know, or know they know it all.  Most importantly, if you are going to be hiring salespeople, it's more important than ever to not make costly mistakes.  Even if their 13 traits were predictive of sales success - and they're not - how would you really know if a candidate had them?  That's why it's so important to use Objective Management Group's Sales Candidate Assessments - legendary for their accuracy and ability to predict sales performance.
Earlier this week, I hosted a 45-minute interactive Webinar and shared the magic behind our assessment.  If you are interested in seeing it, you can click here.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Sales Candidate, sales personality, sales traits, sales test

All-Time Top Kurlan Sales Article

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 @ 10:12 AM

sales force evaluation,sales test,dave kurlan,sales candidate assessments,OMG,sales assessements,sales hiring test,sales hiring assessment,objective managementAs promised for today, I'm revealing the single article, from among my former 999 blog articles which my readers voted "best", to be my 1,000th post.  It's not my personal favorite, it's not the most well-written, it's not the most viewed, it's not the most entertaining, it's not the most insightful or the most linked to.  But from among the 15 for which you could vote, this was your choice:

Exposed - Personality Tests Disguised as Sales Assessments

(originally posted on January 28, 2009) 

Yesterday, I met with a longtime client who, in his previous company, used OMG's assessments to identify what needed to change in order to double revenue from $30 million to $60 million.  In his new company, which is already about twelve times that size, he wants to double revenue again.  He said, "I just wasted two years with the _____ assessment."  The assessment to which he referred was a personality assessment marketed as a sales assessment.  He could have referred to any personality or behavioral styles assessment.

Many people are not going to like this article.  I'm about to expose the findings in personality-based and behavioral-based assessments which assessment companies have been marketing as sales assessments for the last dozen years.

First, you'll need to read this piece, Personality Assessments for Sales - The Definitive Case Study.  Really, you need to read it first!

There isn't a tremendous difference between personality assessments and behavioral styles assessments.  Popular behavioral styles assessments, like the various versions of DISC, produce findings along four dimensions (categories) while some personality assessments, like those using the PF16 as their underlying engine or instrument, can measure traits in as many as sixteen dimensions.

But personality assessments and behavioral  styles assessments are not predictive of sales performance.  They don't conduct predictive validity studies, as we do, because their assessments don't predict.  Instead, they conduct construct validity studies, which only show to what extent an assessment measures a specific trait and not necessarily the traits which you want to know about, but the traits which they can actually measure.

So here's the problem.  Their marketing material usually says something like, "Salespeople must be able to Prospect, Question, Manage Objections and Close.  They must have Product Knowledge.  They must be accountable, have drive, be self-starters and be coachable."  You read those words and say, "Yes, yes.  That is exactly what we need."  And the masquerade is on.

As I wrote in the other article, personality-based sales assessments don't really measure what you need to know.  Instead they report on what they can actually measure.  In the table below, I'll list some of the most common "findings" in personality and behavioral styles tests which are marketed as sales assessments, describe what is really being measured and compare that to what Objective Management Group (OMG) measures and reports.

Finding      
 Measures
 OMG Finding
What OMG Actually Measures
Drive or achievement
General need 
to achieve
Desire 
How important it is to achieve success in sales
Resilience 
General ability 
to cope with
adversity
Bravery 
The sales-specific scenarios which will be problematic and the individual's ability to handle them
Rejection  
How the individual
reacts to
not being accepted or
not having their
ideas accepted 
Difficulty Recovering from Rejection  
The impact that "getting hung up on" or "getting a no" will have when they close and how long it may take to recover
Emotions  
Emotional
steadiness 
Ability to Control Emotions 
The likelihood that, when a salesperson is caught off guard or in an uncomfortable situation, they will panic and lose control of the sales call
Sociable 
How comfortable
they feel and how
appropriately they
behave in social
situations  
Bonding and
Rapport   
How quickly they develop relationships with their prospects
Confidence 
Whether they
are a confident
person  
Record 
Collection 
The sales-specific beliefs which support or sabotage their sales outcomes 
Coachable  
Whether they
are open to new
ideas 
Trainable 
Whether they have the incentive to improve their sales competencies 

These are just some of the most common findings.  Since OMG's assessments are so sales-specific, there are literally dozens of findings covering everything which can possibly happen in sales including, but not limited to, prospecting, closing, qualifying, account management, farming, use of the sales process, ability to handle stalls, put-offs, objections and work remotely, growth potential, development needs and more.  What's most important to understand about assessments is that: 

  • The questions in the personality tests are asked in the context of social settings, not sales settings, so none of the findings are sales-specific.
  • Because the findings in personality assessments are not sales-specific, they're not predictive.
  • Personality assessments are generally one-size-fits-all, without regard to your market, its challenges, your competition, your pricing, the resistance which your salespeople will face, your compensation plan and how specific selling strengths and weaknesses will impact those conditions.
  • Assessments of your existing salespeople should be useful for development.  If you don't have sales-specific findings, you're only developing them as people, not salespeople.
  • How is OMG different?  Assessments are only a minor part of an effective sales force evaluation.  The most important part is to be able to learn:
    • What impact sales management is having on the salespeople.
    • Whether you've been hiring the right people.
    • Whether your sales force can execute your strategies.
    • Whether your systems and processes support the sales force.
    • Whether sales management is effective.
    • If you can develop more of a sales culture.
    • Whether the salespeople can make a transition such as account manager types to hunters and closers; presenters and quoters to consultative sales types; transactional sale to a solution sale; etc.
    • Who can be developed?
    • If you're attempting to downsize or rightsize the sales force, which individuals actually have the ability to help you do more with less?
    • How much better can they get?
    • What it will take?
    • What would be the ROI on development?
    • Why do you get the specific results which you get?
    • What is the quality of your pipeline?
    • Etc.
  • When used for hiring and selection, an assessment must be an accurate predictor of sales success for a particular sales role in your particular company, calling on your particular market, with its particular challenges and competition.  A personality assessment won't consistently identify the people who will succeed, while OMG's assessment, with its 95% Predictive Validity, will.  We can differentiate between Recommended (they meet our criteria and yours); Recommended - Ideal (they are recomended and they will ramp up more quickly than normal); and Recommended - Perfect (they are recommended ideal and they meet additional customized criteria which match up with your most effective producers).

In summary, whether you're using a personality assessment, behavioral styles assessment, psychological assessment, or psychometric (describes all of the above) assessment, it's the marketing that's sales-specific, not the findings.  Use them at your own risk.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, omg, objective management, sales assessements, sales hiring test, sales hiring assessment, sales candidate assessments, sales test

8 Question Sales Quiz - Malpractice?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 19, 2010 @ 05:02 AM

One of the many sales newsletters I get each day had a ridiculous sales test.  It asked "Is a Sales Career Right for You?" and had an 8 question test.

First, there aren't 8 questions in the world where the answers would allow us to make that determination.  Even if we tried, we couldn't identify even 15 of our 100+ questions that would allow us to answer that question accurately! But I was curious and clicked on through.  8 Questions and if you get 3 strikes or wrong answers, you're out and shouldn't be in sales. This free test shouldn't even be available for entertainment purposes!

How accurate, predictive or relevant could an 8 question test be?  My problem was that only one, maybe two if I stretch it, of the eight questions were relevant to one's suitability for selling. The rest examined (if you could call it that) beliefs (2 questions), aptitude (2 questions) and strength/weaknesses (3 questions).

I read some of the comments that follow the article and they fell into 2 categories.  The first was "I don't agree" and the second was "thanks for helping me understand why I am struggling". People just shouldn't have any expectations from an 8 question test of any kind.

Aptitude, or what someone knows about selling, has no bearing on WHETHER an individual should sell.  Skills, strategies, tactics and process can be taught.  When people first enter sales, none have the prerequisite skills.  And many who have been selling and have developed the skills shouldn't be in sales because they AREN'T suitable for sales.  

Beliefs, while important, can predict outcomes and the likelihood of success, but not suitability.  Beliefs can be changed too.

Strengths and weaknesses help us understand whether skills, tactics, strategies and process will be executed.  Too many weaknesses and you have a very weak salesperson at which point you could call it DNA.

But ultimately, Selling DNA has more to do with sales motivation and attitude, which this pretend test forgot to ask about.

Why did I waste an article about this little 8 question fraud of a test?  Because there are many reputable assessments which, when they try to use them for sales, become just as irrelevant.

Speaking of assessments, and more specifically Objective Management Group's sales candidate assessment, Al Strauss, my guest on this week's edition of Meet the Sales Experts, talked about tips, case histories and results from an effective sales recruiting process.  He also discussed motivation, resistance, commitment and change.

Click here to listen to the show.  Click here to contact Al.

(c) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, sales test, sales quiz

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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